80% Of Employees Have a Problematic Level of Debt, Study Shows

Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald Research have published a report on the state of workplace wellness, and the results are eye-opening. With a staggering number of employees expressing concern about their financial well-being and debt, this study shines a light on the pressing need for better financial support in the workplace.

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The study has revealed a disconnect between employee expectations and employer efforts when it comes to workplace wellness. While employees agree that their employers have a responsibility to support their physical, emotional, and financial well-being, fewer than half rate their employers’ efforts highly in these areas.

Key Highlights:

Most employees are concerned about their household’s financial well-being, and the overwhelming majority describe their level of debt as a problem.

Six in ten employees (60%) are at least moderately concerned about their household’s financial well-being, which has increased by 11 points since 2021 (49%). About half of the employees are concerned about their emotional (50%) and physical (48%) well-being.

Employees agree that their employers are responsible for ensuring they are physically, emotionally, and financially well, but fewer than half rate their employer’s efforts highly in these areas.  

Three in four employees agree that their employers have a responsibility to make sure employees are mentally healthy and emotionally well (77%) and healthy and physically well (74%). Two-thirds (66%) feel the same about their employer’s responsibility to ensure employees are financially secure and well.

Health insurance and retirement savings plans are the most common employee benefits and are the top benefits for employee retention/recruitment and financial security.  

Four in ten employees (44%) are extremely or very satisfied with their benefits package, which has decreased by 7 points since 2021 (51%).

Most employees have a high level of understanding about their health benefits, and half rate their employer’s communications about health benefits highly.

Half of the employees (52%) rate their employer’s communications about health insurance and health care as excellent or very good—less than half (47%) rate communications about online resources about benefits at the same level.

Workplace flexibility, work-life balance, paid time off, and leave benefits are important to employees. Most feel teleworking has positively impacted their well-being.

Four in ten employees (39%) describe the work-life balance at their company as excellent or very good, which has decreased significantly since 2021—another 36% rate it as good, and 25% rate it as fair or poor.

According to FlexJobs’ Career Pulse 2022 Survey of over 4,000 professionals, 63% of workers said they would choose better work-life balance over better pay if given the option.

Eighty-seven percent also said that having a remote or hybrid job has improved or would improve their work-life balance. Given the above, it’s not surprising that only 3% want to work in the office full-time.

Most employees agree that balancing work and caregiving is challenging, but few employees report access to caregiving benefits.

A quarter of employees (24%) report their employer offers subsidized/complimentary child or daycare. Among those with access, 65% of employees have used it. Among those without access, 44% are interested in having the benefit available.

Half of the employees are satisfied with their current retirement benefits, and most are satisfied with the contributions received from their employers.

Seven in ten employees (70%) say they are currently offered a retirement savings plan. Half of the employees (51%) are extremely or very satisfied with their current retirement benefits, and nearly six in ten (58%) understand their retirement benefits extremely or very well.

Fewer than half of employees say they are offered a financial wellness program at work. When offered, six in ten employees have participated.

Over four in ten employees (45%) say their employer offers the opportunity to participate in a financial wellness program.

Most employees feel mental health wellness programs have become more important in the past year, and most are interested in mental health resources and expanded benefits. 

 Four in ten employees (45%) rate their employer’s communications about mental health and work-life balance as excellent or very good over the past year.

Most employees remain satisfied with their current job despite decreased satisfaction with their benefits package and work-life balance. 

Six in ten employees (59%) are extremely or very satisfied with their current job, which is consistent with the 2021 findings (60%).

Workplace Wellness Survey

“This is the third year of the Workplace Wellness Survey and probably the most meaningful survey report where workplace flexibility, work-life balance, paid time off, and leave benefits have become major critical factors for employees,” said Paul Fronstin, director of Health Benefits Research, EBRI.

“In recent years, key metrics like job satisfaction, benefits satisfaction, and ratings of work/life balance have remained fairly consistent.

It’s important to note the declines measured this year in overall benefits satisfaction and in ratings of work-life balance, which contrast with stable job satisfaction, and the belief that remote work has improved well-being and underscores the need for employers to ramp up well-being efforts,” said Lisa Greenwald, president & CEO, Greenwald Research.

The Survey

For this year’s survey, a total of 1,518 American full-time and part-time workers ages 21-64 were interviewed.  Within this national audience — 1,014 workers and an oversample of 504 LGBTQ workers completed surveys — bringing the total to 605 LGBTQ workers.

Information for the survey was gathered through 20-minute online interviews conducted from July 13-29, 2022.  Data was weighted by race, age, gender, income, and LGBTQ status to reflect employed Americans ages 21-64.  The margin of error for the total sample of current workers in this study is +/- approximately 2.5%.

To review the complete 14-page 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey presentation, click here. 

The 2022 Workplace Wellness Survey was conducted through the financial support of AARP, Cigna, Edelman Financial Engines, Fidelity Investments, Human Rights Campaign, Mercer, Morgan Stanley, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, OneAmerica, Unum, and Voya Financial.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.